Intelligence

Cohen Sentencing Casts Cloud Over Trump’s Chief of Staff Search
Former ‘fixer’ says he was just following his client’s orders with payments to women

Michael Cohen (center), former personal attorney for President Donald Trump, leaves the Hart Senate Office Building after a meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 election on September 19, 2017. He since admitted to lying to lawmakers and was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The sentencing of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former “fixer” and personal attorney, could hang over the president’s search for a new White House chief of staff.

After all, on one of the counts that put Cohen in prison for three years, Cohen contends he was merely following his former client’s direction. And in an emotional statement in a New York courtroom Wednesday, Cohen blamed his actions on a “blind loyalty” to the president that he said “led me to choose a path of darkness over light.”

FBI Details Intelligence Staffer Probe Ahead of Sentencing
Sentencing hearing for James Wolfe scheduled on Dec. 20

James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide, leaves the FBI’s Washington Field Office after being booked on June 11. A sentencing hearing for Wolfe is scheduled for Dec. 20.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The FBI faced a dilemma and had to take “extraordinary” actions when it realized in 2017 that the former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee appeared compromised in his role safeguarding information and had a clandestine relationship with a national security journalist.

Had James Wolfe been an executive branch employee, the FBI would have notified intelligence agencies if a Top Secret clearance holder was compromised so they could protect national security, federal prosecutors wrote in a court filing Tuesday.

Lame-Duck Republican Sounds Off as GOP Downplays Trump Hush Payments
John Faso calls president’s campaign handling of Russia ‘height of stupidity’

Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y., leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 6, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No GOP lawmaker has been willing to say that President Donald Trump’s hush payments to a Playboy model and an adult film star rise to the level of an impeachable offense — but at least one lame-duck Republican sounded off on the president’s “reprehensible” actions and called Trump’s campaign team’s dealings with Russia the “height of stupidity.”

Rep. John Faso, who in the coming weeks will wrap up his first and only term representing New York’s 19th District, told the Daily Freeman in an interview Tuesday that while he doesn’t believe Trump broke campaign finance laws, that doesn’t entirely absolve him of morally questionable behavior.

Trump Fumbled Claim of Capturing 10 Terrorists
The actual statistic is more nuanced than the president suggested

A recent State Department report showed no terrorist threat on the Mexico border. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

There is no public evidence to substantiate President Donald Trump’s claim on Tuesday, in the context of a discussion of security at the southern border, that 10 terrorists have been caught recently trying to enter the United States.

Trump’s comments sparked a small tempest on social media, but a recent State Department report showed no terrorist threat on the Mexico border, and Trump’s own administration effectively acknowledges the president may have mischaracterized the statistic.

Senators Urge No Prison Time for Intelligence Committee Aide Who Lied to FBI
Prosecutors, on other hand, recommend two years in prison for James Wolfe

Senators urged leniency for former Senate Intelligence Committee James Wolfe, who lied to the FBI. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

While federal prosecutors on Tuesday recommended a two-year prison sentence for James Wolfe, a former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee who pleaded guilty in October to a charge he lied to the FBI about his contacts with journalists, his former bosses urged the judge to show mercy. 

A letter to the judge from current committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, top Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, and former chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California urged no prison time for Wolfe, who was director of security for nearly three decades.

Paul Ryan: The Good, the Bad and the Truly Disappointing
He never wanted the job. He never lived up to his potential. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom

Paul D. Ryan’s time as speaker is coming to an end, and everyone’s reviewing the tape. It wasn’t all bad for the gentleman from Janesville, Murphy writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It’s hard to excel in a job you never wanted in the first place. That seems to be one of the primary takeaways from the three years Paul Ryan served as House speaker since Republicans practically begged him to step into the void they created when they ran John Boehner off from the job in 2015.

Add to Ryan’s burden the fact that he had to work with a president who was his opposite in every measure but party affiliation, and it’s easy to think Ryan’s speakership was doomed from the start. But it wasn’t all bad for the gentleman from Janesville. Let’s review.

John Kelly Out as White House Chief of Staff, Trump Says
Nick Ayers, VP Pence’s chief of staff, is leading candidate for job

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly speaks during a White House briefing on Oct. 19. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump said Saturday White House Chief of Staff John Kelly will leave his post at the end of the year, concluding a rocky tenure during which he clashed with his boss.

“A great guy,” Trump said of the retired Marine Corps general as he left the White House for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.

Expect Two Wildly Different Stories After James Comey’s House Testimony
Former FBI director not bound by confidentiality agreement, can speak freely after interview

Former FBI Director James Comey will speak with House members behind closed doors Friday but will not be bound by a confidentiality agreement unlike previous witnesses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former FBI Director James B. Comey is speaking with lawmakers behind closed doors Friday after reaching a compromise with House Republicans who subpoenaed him to testify about his recommendation in July 2016 not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server to conduct official government business.

But unlike all previous witnesses who interviewed with the joint panel of House Judiciary Committee and Oversight and Government Reform Committee members for their probe into potential bias at the FBI and Justice Department in 2016, Comey will not be bound to silence by a confidentiality agreement after the meeting.

Elise Stefanik Wants to Play in Primaries to Help Republican Women
NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer thinks playing in primaries is a “mistake”

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik is stepping back from her role at the NRCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik recruited more than 100 women as the first female head of recruitment at the National Republican Congressional Committee. But only one of them prevailed, with many failing to make it through their primaries.

So Stefanik is stepping back from the NRCC to be involved where she thinks it matters.

Capitol Welcomes George H.W. Bush to Rotunda for the Last Time
Congressional leaders, dignitaries on hand for arrival of 41st president, who will lie in state

President Donald Trump salutes as First Lady Melania Trump holds her hand over her heart at former President George H.W. Bush's casket in the Capitol Rotunda on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 8:45 p.m. | The sounds of military cannons rattled the Capitol Rotunda on Monday. Over and over. Twenty-one somber times as Congress paused to welcome former President George H.W. Bush for the final time.

With votes set aside in both chambers, Republican and Democratic members gathered in the ornate room under the building’s signature dome, black bunting adorning its doorways.